Southern Boulevard Parkway
|Pennsylvania Route 611|
|Type||Parkway – urban park|
|Commissioned||1914 by Olmsted Brothers|
Southern Boulevard Parkway is a landscaped segment of south Broad Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania connecting Marconi Plaza and FDR Park from Oregon Avenue at Broad Street southward five intersections to the gateway entrance of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The parkway consists of the central median landscaped area including the bordering east and west tree lined sidewalks and various sized green spaces which separates opposing lanes of traffic, and roadway intersections. Broad Street itself is a historic city street and this landscaped segment is bordered by an urban residential townhome community and the entrance to the major venues of the Philadelphia Sports Complex and Xfinity Live!, and the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
In 1904, a plan for a Park and Parkway Improvements in South Philadelphia began with Samuel Parsons Jr. laying out a design, but work stopped by 1910. Then in 1912, the city's director of public works, Morris Cooke, engaged the preeminent landscape architecture firm, Olmsted Brothers, to produce designs for League Island Park, Oregon Plaza and the stretch of south Broad Street from Oregon Avenue south to Pattison Avenue and southward to League Island. The unifying medial green space including the tree lined sidewalks on the east and west connected the two parks developed from river swamp lands that were filled and regraded. In 1926 a second Parkway was constructed on Moyanmensing Avenue from Oregon Avenue to the intersection of Packer Avenue, and Packer Avenue was extended from 20th Street to Broad Street (Southern Boulevard) for access to the Sesquicentennial Exposition. Later the two parks were renamed Marconi Plaza and FDR Park and the median landscaping known as the Southern Boulevard.
Olmsted's design was centered on the availability of open space to all residents. Olmsted wanted to create a place that took advantage of the best characteristics that the city and the country had to offer. The intended result was to create a "Suburban Village" by blending the countryside with the urban environments and developing an organization of open space, views and providing the advantages of increased health benefits of "purity of air" and "facilities for quiet out-of-door recreation". This original concept design facilitated surrounding development in the next 100 years of a thriving urban residential community, countryside recreation and the focal location point for regional metropolitan spectator sporting events.
The Boulevard was utilized as the main entrance and central roadway in the 1926 Sesquicentennial Exposition, a world's fair hosted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, and the 50th anniversary of the 1876 Centennial Exposition. Open green areas, parking, and huge exposition buildings flanked the Boulevard lined with linden trees and flowering crab apple trees, individual obelisks as the 13 columns for each of the original colony States known as the "Founders Pylons", various standards, banners and a huge 80 foot high 27 ton replica of the Liberty Bell at the gateway of Oregon Plaza. The Boulevard was illuminated at night with spectacular visual displays of the huge Liberty Bell surrounded with 26,000 light bulbs, the Founder Pylons each with a powerful searchlight projecting skyward, and the shooting projection of lights from the Tower Of Light. This provided a fantastic effect for that time period.
The structures were demolished or removed following the close of the exposition, but the area continued to draw development in the 1960s with a new stadium, bowling alley, drive in movie theater, movie theater, and a major new Aquarium, Aquarama Aquarium Theater of the Sea. The development pattern continued with the centralized venues for professional sports in the form of Veterans Stadium and Spectrum which also have since been demolished and in 2012 now includes a complex of two Stadiums, one arena, and a new dining and entertainment district.
Although the thoroughfare carried the name of Broad Street the green space was officially designated in the 1950s Philadelphia Home Rule City Charter as part of the Fairmount Park urban park system as parkland, to be known as Southern Parkway.
|I-95 (Delaware Expressway) – Philadelphia International Airport, Central Philadelphia||Exit 17 on I-95|
|PA 611 (Broad Street)|
|I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway) – Valley Forge, Walt Whitman Bridge||Exit 349 on I-76|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
- The Olmsted Brothers’ Artificial Nature: South Philadelphia’s League Island (F.D.R) Park
- Street Atlas USA (Map). DeLorme. 2007.